Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Week

We have had quite a first week with all our family together. Henry has done so well, even with the adjustments and challenges for all of us. The first few days Henry was home, there was lots of exploring and last preparations for Christmas. The boys played with him so much that by the third day, they were going to their rooms for some down time. Henry wasn't sure what to think about that but has been learning that the rest of us all need brief periods of rest and that it's okay. We'll always make sure he is taken care of and be back to normal as soon as possible. He also is learning that everyone needs love and attention (not just Henry) like when I hug the boys or Daddy, and that everyone wants time with him, not just Mommy. We talk about what it means to be a "family," that we all love and hug and talk and take care of each other. We know it's a process but want to establish some important realities of our home early on to help him through his fears and insecurities. The fact that he lets Daddy stay in and play during his bathtime before I come in and wash him is huge progress, as well as, that he is seeking out both brothers and not just one. It is wonderful to see his comfort level growing, not just in our home, but with each one of us. 

 Reading with Daddy at bedtime

Before I get to Christmas, I just wanted to share some things Henry is really enjoying...bathtime, mealtime, playing-with-brothers time, riding in the car, seeing Christmas lights and decorations, Dora the Explorer, asking what everything is, sitting in the desk chair watching me cook meals, riding on his airplane, listening to music, and playing with his tractor. Here's a photo of some silliness around here:

We had a really nice time driving around and looking at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. It was the first Eve in many years we didn't attend a Christmas Eve service but we felt it would be too much for all of us. Henry had no idea what was coming Christmas day, as much as we talked about how much fun it would be, so to see his surprise and excitement at waking to a full stocking and time for opening his Christmas gifts after reading the Christmas story was such a blessing to say the least. We had a great time opening gifts, then eating breakfast, resting and playing, and eating Christmas dinner together. Here are a just a few highlights:




Well, Thursday evening, we were ready to get out of the house so three of us headed to Zoolights and Henry loved them. He is used to large crowds so that didn't bother him...it is when everyone is looking and talking at him that he gets shy/nervous and shuts down. So, the zoolight outing went great. Friday, it was unanimous with the boys that a swimming outing would be fun, so we headed to the local YMCA. Henry was nervous and excited, letting me slowly get him deeper and deeper so that he finally got comfortable. He wants to go back! It was really good bonding time for he and I as I held him close and he learned to trust me. I loved it!


Our family lighting the Christ Candle in worship today
We took the weekend easy as I needed to have everything ready for church this morning. We have been hoping for some sunshine this weekend for a walk outside but that hasn't happened yet. We were unsure how Henry would do during church this morning with both his parents leading and up and down...he did great! We had already given him a tour of the building and I had been prepping him on what would go on. He pretty much went along with everything, getting restless toward the end, and then almost crying when I went up to lead the closing song. He held it together though with his big brother holding him, and our first service with Henry was over. Praise the Lord! He really enjoyed it as far as we can tell; apparently he was checking everyone out during the service but was a bit shy before and after. He's taking everything in and will be socializing before we know it! One of the funny things he said when we first sat down was, "Jesus no coming!" That meant, "He's not here!" He has been noticing photos of baby Jesus wherever we go and apparently thought He would be there in person at church. Well, Jesus was, just not visible to our eyes...hard to explain to a 4 year old that this special Someone lives in our hearts! We love Henry's open heart to baby Jesus, the Bible, to worship music, and to prayer. God has a beautiful plan for him!

Lastly, Henry and our dog have been quite a pair the past days...Ollie seems to have come home from the kennel depressed; we figure it is because we were gone for so long and that he came home to a new small addition. He hasn't been eating or acting the same at all, and the vet says he is healthy, but each day we do see some improvement. Henry has not been sure what to think about him...giving him the commands we say and noticing everything he does and telling us about it. He gets nervous when Ollie gets near his face but I saw him give Ollie a hug a day or two ago, and is petting him more now, so progress is made there. On Ollie's end, I found him in bed with Henry last night and after moving him out, thought that was a good sign as well:).

We will be going through this newborn attachment and adjustment phase for awhile. I, personally, am trying to rest when I can as Henry gets me up a few times each night, sometimes not letting me go to sleep until late. We're still working on a bedtime routine and sound sleep will come with time...I still wonder how much we're still on "China time." I also am finding that time for household duties is less so am sneaking in what I can when Henry is playing with the boys. The bills, dishes, laundry, floors, etc. can only go without attending for so long! Not to mention my church responsibilities...the guys are helping me a lot more, of course, but we're still getting a schedule and plan of action in place. It will come!
I love this photo of his first night asleep in his bed! 

That pretty much sums up our first week with Henry...it was a big one! How special to have this Christmas gift with us to celebrate the greatest gift of all. We are looking forward to all that 2014 will hold with our wonderful family...challenges, adjustments, adventures, and all. God is so good and we are so blessed. Thank you for sharing in this journey with us and for your prayers. They have carried us through some very trying and weary moments, and we feel them!!!  God bless you richly with every spiritual blessing in Christ in this new year.  


 




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Home with Henry!

I need to write an update but also have a lot of Christmas things to do before bed, so here's what I have for now!

Our flight home went amazingly well. Henry was so excited to fly in airplanes to America and with a few catnaps here and there, stayed pretty upbeat and cooperative throughout the trip. Our flight from Guangzhou to Beijing was pretty quick and the four hour wait in Beijing also went pretty quick. Another adoptive family was on the same flight back to Seattle, so that made for good company. Our flight from Beijing to Seattle was about 10 hours, less than the 12 going (nice!), and though we didn't sleep much, it went pretty quickly with movies and interaction with Henry. I didn't eat the meals coming back...I think that after being sick and having so much good Chinese food in China, the airplane meals were not appealing at all. I cannot tell you how wonderful it felt to be back on U.S. soil with familiar procedures, language, customs, etc. I really enjoyed China (except for being sick) but was ready to COME HOME!

Once back, we had to stand in the non-U.S. passport line to get Henry's visa clearance, then wait at another counter for officials to go through all our U.S. consulate paperwork. Henry was a U.S. citizen at that point and will be mailed a Certificate of Citizenship within 45 days. This will help us secure him a U.S. passport and we will be inquiring about a local birth certificate as well to make things easier for him in the future. 

When done with immigration, we got our bags and headed for the hotel where our car was parked. We went for lunch at Denny's (good home cooking!) and then back to the airport to wait on the boys flying in from Ft. Worth. They arrived on time and it was truly a sweet reunion. Henry was pretty excited to see them but no one more than Mom and Dad:). Our only glitch on the trip was neither Randy nor I paid good attention to where we parked the car in the airport garage (blame jet lag), so spent about 30 minutes going up and down floors and rows to find it. Alas, we found it and everyone was really happy to head home.

Surprisingly, we slept the first night through and I was thinking perhaps jet lag wouldn't be too bad for us. It really hasn't, but the last couple nights, I've been pretty awake until wee hours of the morning (sometimes unwillingly due to Henry waking), and Randy has been waking pretty early in the morning. I've been doing a bit of unpacking, laundry, cleaning house, tending to Henry, and preparing/shopping for Christmas, so am running on adrenaline right now, not sufficient sleep. I do hope to get back to a good night's sleep at some point, but that also depends on Henry. He slept full nights in China with us in the hotel but here, he is waking and crying a couple times during the night, so we're not sure if it's because it's a new place, the results from abandonment, or if he isn't feeling well. His stomach is obviously adjusting to a diet change and giving him a little trouble, and we've noticed a rash on his arm today. We'll get through Christmas and then need to get him to a pediatrician to get checked out. He'll need vaccinations as soon as possible as well. 

Henry is doing amazing already, even with sleep disruptions and so many changes. He is getting so much attention from his big brothers who are enjoying him a lot. They make him laugh and play with him, as well as, help where they can or need to. Henry is already picking up some of their English phrases...it's really cute to hear him say things the way he hears them. In fact, his most common phrase right now is, "Whatcha going?" We have tried to make sure the boys can be just big brothers, not have to play parental roles, and get breaks when needed.  I can tell they're starting to get tired and need their own time again. Henry is learning that it is okay if they don't play right away, and that they'll be back eventually. 

He has also been exploring the house, whatever he can reach or be lifted up to. He moves (scoots) around so quickly and his upper body strength is quite strong. We're trying to provide things to help him feel more comfortable and independent, like a child's toilet seat, step stool, and toddler bed with railing that he can get in and out of by himself. Time will help a lot in getting him the strength and support he needs to walk instead of crawl to get around, and we really look forward to seeing how he is going to develop and further reach his potential. His first Shriner's appointment in Portland is January 9th.

As for attachment, that is making huge strides. Bedtime and wake up time have been the hardest as Henry really didn't want much to do with me, though the days went pretty well. That has changed as now he wants me to be with him when he falls to sleep and then wants to cuddle with me for awhile in the morning before getting up. It's working for now! It's also been really helpful that I have some Chinese and he has some English. Our conversations are quite comical as we go back and forth between the two languages and amuse each other with our goof ups and attempts to communicate:).

Last night I had to leave for an hour and he was really upset, then waited for me in the bathtub until I came back so I could wash him. Today, I had to go grocery and Christmas shopping, but he pretty much said, "Bye, Mommy!" and did well while I was gone. It is important for him to know that we are here to stay and that temporary absence does not mean permanent absence, and that we will always make sure he is taken care of. To see his growing sense of security, safety, comfort, and happiness is such a blessing to us. He has been through so much already in his short life and has many obstacles to face ahead, but the inner strength he is gaining with lots of love and care will help him through it all. And we know God has a great plan for his life and will be His greatest Source of strength and grace! Our heart is that Henry knows this great Love and experiences the hope, joy, and peace in abundance that results from knowing Him. What a blessing that he already asks us to pray multiple times a day.

There are a hundred other things to mention but I just can't post them all. I will say that we took Henry to some close friends' house of ours today for a short introduction and visit...he was a little overwhelmed but did well considering. He is getting slowly introduced to our surroundings and loves to go see things, though not to necessarily be around large groups of people at this point; we can tell that even just being at home is a bit overstimulating, probably largely due to the high energy activity of his big brothers. This basically means that he has trouble winding down and so may shut down or get defiant. He resists going to sleep even when tired (perhaps he doesn't want to miss anything?), but when he does lay down and relax, he is out fast. I love watching him go to sleep and I love the physical affection he craves and gives when ready. He is so cute and cuddly and wonderfully made...I so love this little guy!!!

He really enjoyed driving around town and looking at Christmas lights tonight. We've just been back three days so our Christmas seems to have abruptly come upon us. We plan to just enjoy our family and home together, open presents, eat some good food, watch some Christmas movies, and focus on the "baby Jesus", as Henry puts it. We hope all of you have a very blessed and Merry Christmas, whomever you have the gift of being with and in whatever you have to do. Enjoy those around you and thank God for being WITH US in His Son, Jesus Christ. We are blessed beyond measure and I can truly say that Henry being with us this Christmas is one of the greatest, most divine Christmas gifts I have ever been given. To know we are God's adopted children like Henry is our son because of the gift of God's own Son is an amazing thing. All of His glorious riches in Christ are ours forever because of adoption! May we never take this for granted. Blessings!



Monday, December 23, 2013

Trip Photos & Video

I have an update coming but first, here are some fantastic pictures of our trip from beginning to end. Enjoy!!!

Photo Album: https://henrysadoption.shutterfly.com/pictures/8

Video of the Great Wall: https://henrysadoption.shutterfly.com/pictures/214

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bringing Henry Home

We are so excited and ready to bring Henry home! What a journey it has been the last 14 months. We feel like we literally trekked the Great Wall of China to get to this point, overcoming mounds of paperwork, multiple approvals, fundraising, long distances, sickness, fatigue, various emotions, Henry's adjustment, waiting, and now the unknown ahead as we forge a new life together as a family of five (or six if you include the dog:). Wow! God has been so gracious to us in this process and we are indebted to your prayer covering. Thank you!!!

We have Henry's U.S. visa in hand and flights are confirmed. We leave our hotel at 5:40 in the morning so plan to be early to bed tonight. We fly from Guangzhou to Beijing, have a 4-hour layover there, then fly to Seattle on HU0495, to arrive at 11:05 a.m. on Sat. the 21st. The boys are to arrive in Seattle from DFW at 4 p.m. the same day...praying all goes smoothly for this last part of the journey! If all goes well, we will be home Saturday night, ready for a good night's sleep.:)

What a very Merry Christmas for us all! Blessings!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sweet Times

Finally got this to publish!

Here's a sweet picture of the guys during dinner the other night. We took an excursion to a huge children's shopping center, walked around and found another stroller since the other one broke already:(. We also called the boys again. It was great to hear their voices; just two days until we see them! Henry's getting excited too!

Yesterday morning we went to the Guangzhou zoo and saw lots of great animals. It was beautiful weather for it. I might have been on the news here as I got asked questions about the zoo at the giraffe area by a news reporter:). Last night we walked around a gorgeous park nearby. A picture of Henry and I there is also attached. This morning was our consulate appointment, yay!!! Everything went great and now we just rest easy and get packed to go. We will receive Henry's visa tomorrow. He'll be an American citizen once on U.S. soil. Can't wait to go home! Thanks for prayers as we wind this amazing trip up.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

In the Waiting

We continue to hang out here in Guangzhou, waiting for Thursday's consulate appointment. Yesterday, we went to the pearl market for gift shopping, ordered in Papa Murphy's pizza for lunch, and went on the Pearl River boat cruise last night. The river was all lit up on both sides, as well as all the bridges, and was a really fun time. We were headed to the zoo this morning but it was postponed until tomorrow because of the rain. We are not sure what to do today and Henry got upset because he didn't get to get on the big bus leaving the hotel. He sure likes to go so hopefully we'll find something to do today. Perhaps the park nearby if the rain let's up.

Henry's TB test came back negative so all is well there. We moved hotel rooms here at the China Marriott because the shower kept leaking into the hall. My chest congestion is getting less each day and Randy seems to be pretty much all better. We are getting anxious to go home, though the trip itself with Henry will be a big one: Guangzhou to Beijing to Seattle, wait for the boys to arrive in Seattle from TX, then drive home. It will feel SO good to get home.

Yesterday, all the children in our group got dressed up in traditional clothing for a group photo. Henry wore the Mongolian outfit his orphanage gave him and looked so handsome, like a prince! I didn't get a pic with my phone so will have to wait to share it. Very cute!

We are all well and continue to appreciate your prayers. Henry seems to be attaching well, staying healthy, and sleeping good. He is quite a talker in Chinese, very observant about things, so I'm sure it won't be too long before he's chatting naturally in English. He's already repeating us a lot and saying a good bit. He also can be demanding so we're working on please and thank you, as well as some boundaries. He's a typical child, testing to see where they are:).
Well, that's about it for now. I'd better go see how the guys are faring. Hope you all are well! Blessings!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Guangzhou!

We made it to Guangzhou! It was a 3 hour flight from Hohhot last night and Henry did wonderfully. The first couple days he was with us, he would be a little mad and say "no" every time we mentioned airplane or America. By yesterday, his excitement on seeing and flying in an airplane was so high that when we got in the airport and saw one, he yelled out, "Daddy, airplane!!!" with the happiest smile ever. He literally could not help but talk about it with anyone and everyone. His friend, Colton, just adopted from New Day also, was on the same flight. Those two just talked and talked with so much animation. It was so much fun to watch!

I think the "Planes" movie really helped. And your prayers! He loved the plane ride, just talked and played and looked out the window to his little heart's content. He finally went to sleep on the plane about 30 minutes before it landed.  How fun to experience his first plane ride with him. Now, he's talking about America, so apparently is ready to fly again:). We just have one week to go, yay!!!

For our first full day here, Henry had his visa photo taken and got an international travel physical and TB test. He came out of the TB test room smiling and saying, "All done!" He is one tough cookie! And each doctor he saw commented on how smart he is. What a big treasure in this little package! Now he is napping and this evening we're joining other adoptive families for dinner out. These next few days involve more paperwork and some sightseeing. Everything is leading up to the big day, the 19th- our U.S. consulate appointment!

Our hotel here is HUGE and filled with adoptive families from all different agencies and countries. It's an amazing and beautiful thing to see! Guangzhou is huge and tropical. I think our guide said that there are 17+ million people here. It is a little rainy and humid, but believe me, it is a welcome change! The dryness of Hohhot was HARD though I'm sure being sick didn't help at all. I am much better now but have quite a lot of chest congestion and coughing. Randy's cough is much better now, and praise the Lord, Henry is just sweet and healthy:). Thank you so much for prayers...I didn't know how I could travel yesterday, weak and with low fever, but God gave me strength! Now if I could just get rid of this congestion.

This photo is of Henry excitedly touring the Hohhot airport. I can't wait to post all our photos when we get back. What a journey this has been! Blessings!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Henry Blessings

What a day of little, big blessings this day has been. Mr. Henry is something to behold. First, his appetite has returned with his comfort level and yes, he is a good eater:)  We didn't have any appointments today so slept in a little and just enjoyed being together. Henry ate a good breakfast, we walked around the hotel a bit, then played in our room. My temperature and infection were gone this morning but both Randy and I have colds now, so we ventured out to a nearby pharmacy for more medicine. Let me just say that no matter the traffic light, crossing the street is crazy dangerous.

After being back for a little while, we decided to take a taxi to a nearby mall for some KFC. After going up and back down seven levels, we finally found it and enjoyed a little taste of home. Henry loves french fries, corn on the cob, and popcorn chicken:). And he LOVES riding in cars. We got the movie "Planes" to play on our tablet today, so we're hoping that his interest moves to include airplanes as well for flying home:).

We all had a good late afternoon nap. Neither Randy nor I slept very well last night with our congestion. Henry, however, is healthy and happy, not fussing anymore about naptime or bedtime. He's so cute as he'll lay in the crib holding his little car(s) and whispering until he falls asleep. We've had a lot of silly play with him today, more mutual conversations , and more cuddly time. He can't wait for bathtime and then reading with his daddy before bed. It's helping a lot that I'm not so sick too!

There was great progress made today as Henry wanted to look at our family scrapbook I had made and sent to him awhile back, and talk about his brothers and family in America. He isn't getting upset at the mention of airplanes or America, and he spoke to the boys and my parents on the phone last night. Celebrating little victories!

I really wanted to focus tonight on what we're learning about Henry. He has some major physical development challenges, but wow, he can move quick, is extremely flexible, and doesn't miss a thing. His mind is sharp, memory great, and English amazing. Today, he sang "O Christmas Tree," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" with me in perfect English (although neither of us knew all the words to the first song:) as we circled the large Christmas Tree in the lobby. He moves around our tablet like he's had it for weeks, and he wrote down the numbers 1 to 3 tonight for us. There is a wealth of learning in this guy from New Day that we are only just discovering. He loves music and singing, so will definitely be encouraged in that area.

I know this is getting long but wanted to give you all a little introduction to this little guy. We know he is meant to be ours and that God has amazing plans for him. We also know that the road ahead will not be easy, albeit the most blessed, and wonder what in the world it's going to look like. We have no idea but are enjoying him in the moment and trusting our faithful God who has led us this far to make the path straight before us. It's scary, exciting, and just plain crazy...by far the greatest leap of faith we've taken. When I say that our lives are changed forever, I mean it. And I also can't wait for everyone to meet him!

Thank you for prayers everyone! Please continue to lift up our health, attachment with Henry, our sons who we miss greatly, and our travels to/time in Guangzhou starting tomorrow. I'd better sleep now while the guys are sleeping! Tomorrow is a big day. Blessings!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hohhot Days

It has been kind of quiet here in Hohhot after Henry arrived and settled in. Each morning has been more paperwork and then the rest of the day, waiting for it to process. Yesterday morning was a big one as we signed adoption papers, answered questions, and confirmed with the orphanage and CCCWA that we would love and care for Henry as our own always. This morning, Henry had passport pictures taken and will receive that tomorrow or Friday. We leave for Guangzhou on Friday at 5 p.m.

Every day, Henry is warming up more to us. He is obviously very attached to New Day and when tired or upset, cries out that he wants to go home. He hasn't mentioned it today though and is smiling, laughing, and talking with us a lot more. It is precious when he calls us mommy and daddy, looks for one of us, and asks to be held. Right now, he is enjoying bathtime. He does say that he doesn't like airplanes or America, so hopefully will trust and like us enough by the 21st to go willingly. His life is changing in every way, as is ours, but at least we chose it and understand it. His attachment here is good though, as it means he has that capability to attach to us over time.

We are missing home and our boys very much. Unfortunately, I have been very sick the last two days with fever, much congestion, and stomach issues. Thankfully, we are able to get everything we need at and right around the hotel. We found a baby store where we got a stroller for Henry. He's a little guy  but heavy to carry after awhile. He also likes to go a lot. The hotel is huge so we push him around to see the fountain, Christmas tree, piano, lights, etc. and he is happy! He'll talk to anyone and everyone just thinks he's adorable. He is! He just also doesn't mind letting his opinions known:).

Thank you for prayers and encouragement. I really hope to get over this bug sooner than later and not spread it to the guys. Randy has the beginnings of a dry cough. We're going to call the boys here in a little bit. Henry is having a grand time in the bathtub and will no doubt sleep well again. Blessings!

Monday, December 9, 2013

First Day Photos!

Henry's Gotcha Day!

We made it through the first day with Henry! It was a roller coaster of emotions for all of us, but especially Henry. Here's a short summary!

-Henry rode an overnight train from Beijing to Hohhot and was so excited about coming that he hardly slept. He was also disappointed that we didn't come see him in Beijing like some of the other families did. Our agency didn't approve this as it is against CCCWA policy and felt it could jeopardize the adoption.

-Around 10 a.m. Henry and a little girl arrived to meet their families. At first, Henry let me hold him but when he realized he wasn't going back with his nannies, he started getting upset and saying he wanted to go home. You could see and hear the panic in his cries. We totally understood and knew this could happen, but had been hopeful all the Skyping would have helped more.

-The morning was chaotic as expected with paperwork and a distressed child, but snack, drink, play, and soothing words from his nannies helped him (and us) get through it. My bit of Chinese and his bit of English helped as well.

-After getting ready in our room, Henry was put in a carrier on his Dad's chest and we set out for lunch. He wasn't really hungry and about midway through, got upset again so that we left and brought our food back.

-He was so obviously exhausted and ready for a nap, but he was so distressed that he cried for a long time, unable to be soothed, and saying "Go home" along with something else I didn't understand. The grief and anger were so evident and difficult to watch but I just loved on him the best I could and let him express his emotions. Finally, he fell until a deep sleep, snoring and more at peace.

-After about an hour of rest, he woke up and sat with his Daddy to read books and have a snack. After some play time, he wanted to go outside so we bundled up and set out. He enjoyed watching his Dad get a beard trim and then we found a stroller...he's heavier than you think! He really liked the stroller and it made everyone more comfortable. We also let him pick out a drink and snack at the store, which he was happy to do.

-The evening was really good in our hotel room. We played, watched t.v., listened to music, colored, etc. He moved around on the floor and seemed to be quite content. He especially enjoyed bathtime!

-We weren't sure how bedtime would go but after teeth brushing, reading books, and seeing us going to bed too, he laid right down in his crib holding his stuffed animals and cars. Soon, we were all asleep and he hasn't woken at all. Just me!

So, Henry's Gotcha Day is over and tomorrow is a new day. We know the days will probably be a mixture of good and hard, but we are looking forward to each one with our precious son. He is an amazing little guy, so bright and full of life. We just love holding and kissing him, seeing those smiles, and experiencing those priceless moments of bonding.

Tomorrow, we do more adoption paperwork and get a certificate which finalizes our adoption in China's eyes. Other than that, the day is ours to do with as we wish. Thank you SO MUCH for prayers! We see answers to them and still need them. Blessings!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The big day!

Here are a couple photos of our trip so far, one of us at the Great Wall and one of Hohhot from our hotel room. It is the driest cold I have ever been in, in the single digits at night and 20's during the day. A beautiful city though! We have settled in to the beautiful Shangri-La hotel with a crib in our room for sweet Henry.  It is 4:43 Monday morning and at 10:00 a.m. today (Sunday @ 8 p.m. central time) we receive him in the lobby. It's so exciting and a little scary I think, but most of all, surreal...is this really happening? Wow!!!

God is amazing how He orchestrates and times things...two of Henry's friends from New Day are being united with their adoptive families here in Hohhot this week as well! It's always hard for an orphan to see friends leave with their forever families and be left behind; but this week, Henry, Colton, and Isaac are all going! And they'll get to see each other a little more before leaving. God is good!

I'll post photos of us with Henry as soon as I can. There is soon to be one less orphan in the world. That may seem so small of a difference but it is a HUGE difference to him and to us. Life changed forever, here we come!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hohhot

We had a wonderful time here in Beijing and are headed to Hohhot this morning. Yesterday we toured one section of the Great Wall, drove by the 2008 Olympic venues, had delicious Chinese food for lunch and Mcdonald's for dinner:), and saw an amazing Chinese acrobatics show. We are making neat friends with other adoptive families along the way and getting great pictures with the best yet to come!

We are still crashing around 9 p.m. and waking at 4 or 5 a.m. As you can imagine, the excitement is building as TOMORROW we receive Mr. Henry into our lives forever. We can't wait to see Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, and then Guangzhou- firsts for both of us!

Our boys are doing great, getting to enjoy snow and lots of family time. We sense and see your prayers in big ways. Thank you so much! I'll post tonight how our first day in Hohhot goes! Blessings!

Friday, December 6, 2013

China

I just wanted to let everyone know that all flights went smoothly and we are IN CHINA! We had a good night's rest the first night and then had a wonderful tour of the Forbidden City, Tienenmen Square, and old Beijing yesterday. Today we head to the Great Wall and then a Chinese acrobat performance tonight.

There will be 12 families in our CCAI group once everyone arrives. We are together here in Beijing, split up to different provinces to receive our children, then meet back up in Guangzhou for the final adoption and immigration process. We leave tomorrow for Hohhot and then receive Henry on Monday!!!

I have not been able to get on my blogspot as it is one of the websites blocked here. However, I just bought a personal VPN so that I can do so and now you will get my posts!

We are thrilled to be here and ready for more great adventures... thank you for prayers; I specifically ask for prayer for physical stamina and health as my body is worn down and feels like I'm getting a little cold. We have adjusted to the time change pretty well, crashing around 8 or 9 p.m. and waking around 4 or 5 a.m. It really is wise to be here a few days before getting our children so we are well rested for them. Thank you for prayers...and watch for updates and photos as we go along! Blessings from China!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Going, Going...


And we're almost gone! We have done all our local activities on the schedule and can now focus just on preparations and packing for China. Everything and everyone is being taken care of while we are gone; what an amazing community of family and friends we have. Thank you so much!

Perhaps you are interested in knowing what an adoption trip looks like. Well, here is a run down. If you would like more information on dates, flights, etc., please e-mail or message me. 

Day 1 - Leave US for Beijing.
Day 2 - Arrive in Beijing.
Day 3 - Tour Beijing: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong Tour, and optional acrobatics show.
Day 4 - Tour Beijing: Great Wall.
Day 5 - Depart Beijing for Hohhot.
Day 6 - Go to the Registration Office to receive our child!!!
Day 7 - Complete the Adoption Registration and Notarization. Receive our child’s Registration Certificate.
Day 8 - Rest or optional tours.
Day 9 - Receive our child’s notary documents.
Day 10 - Receive our child’s passport.
Day 11 - Leave Hohhot for Guangzhou.
Day 12 - Go to the clinic to complete our child’s visa physical and visa photo.
Day 13 - Prepare paperwork for the Consulate appointment and have our child's tested for TB.
Days 14-15 - Free days.
Day 16 - Consulate appointment and receive our child's visa packet. 
Day 17 - Depart Guangzhou for our int'l flight home.

Praise the Lord for this incredible journey of adoption. Henry will be in our arms so soon and part of our family FOREVER. We cannot express in words how deeply your love, prayers, and support have touched us. Perhaps Henry will never truly know, but we will, and God certainly does. May He bless you hundredfold for all you have done for us.

Please pray for: 
  • Last packing and preparation details
  • Health, strength, traveling safety, wisdom, and grace
  • Our sons here while we are gone
  • Henry's adjustment and attachment in the changing, challenging times ahead
  • God to be glorified in all things as we depend fully on Him for all that we need. 
I will be keeping our blog updated as able throughout the trip so stay tuned for some exciting stories and photos! Have a VERY BLESSED Christmas season.
 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for YOU

A message from New Day that we want to share with all of you whose support and prayers have meant so much to us. And of course, it's a very cute picture of Henry:). They're all just adorable, aren't they? Dearly loved and known by their Father God who continues to bring the fatherless home and into our hearts forever. Henry will be in our ARMS too on December 9th! Thank you, Lord!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

It's a Go! - Update

For the news we've all been waiting for...we received Travel Approval today and are so happy that words cannot do justice right now. Our minds are also swirling with all we have to do to get ready. We have travel dates and are just waiting for confirmation of the Consulate appointment so we can make flight arrangements. Please lift us up in this wonderfully crazy time and keep watch for updates as we travel. What a Christmas gift this year!  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow...Henry, here we come!

Update: Our consulate appointment came this morning and is set for Dec. 19. We are working on flight, hotel, and other reservations. We so appreciate your prayers as we must take care of many, many preparations very quickly.  Thank you!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Story...

It's time to share the full story of how we came to the adoption process and to Henry in particular, especially before things get really busy as we prepare to travel and go get him.  We await travel approval any day now and could be traveling as early as Dec. 4!  We still have a little over $2000 to raise, so please be in prayer for us in all these details.  So, on to...the story!
________________________________________________________________________________
We have always considered adopting should the Lord open the doors and provide the means. God's heart is for the orphan as clearly seen in Scripture, and each of us are orphans spiritually until adopted into God's family through faith in His Son, Jesus. As Christians, caring for the orphan and those most oppressed and vulnerable is not an option, though it looks different for each of us. As a pastor and missionary family, we have moved every one to two years since marrying, so have not had the stability to adopt. When God brought us to our current place of ministry in 2008 where we have lived and served now for over five years, the desire to adopt has grown.  My heart broke and really sensed again God's leading to pursue adoption after reading "Choosing to See" by Mary Beth Chapman; my husband and I had a long talk about it and decided to take steps in that direction. We filled out a preliminary application with a different adoption agency than we are using now to see if we qualified for China, but we did not. We did qualify for a few other countries, like Bulgaria and Ethiopia, but did not have peace about those. We also did not have peace about pursuing the foster-to-adopt process or domestic adoption, even after attending a Focus on the Family "Wait No More" conference, where we AGAIN sensed a deep calling to adopt. So, we put the process on hold, prayed, and waited.

In early 2012, I sensed God calling me to return overseas on a mission trip to serve orphans. All God's Children Int'l leads such trips to various countries, and even though I wasn't going to look for a child to adopt, I decided on their Bulgaria trip since we did qualify for adoption there. It seemed to be a great opportunity for God to provide further guidance on His plan for us. Well, as God would have it, the trip fell through and another trip option was for China in August 2012.  Since I had lived in Taiwan for 2 1/2 years after college as a missionary, learned Chinese, and have a love for that culture, I decided on this trip. God provided and I had an amazing time with a really wonderful team...this blog was originally created to share my experiences on that trip and those can be found in my earliest blogs.


My amazing AGCI team to China

Henry was abandoned at a bus stop in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, the day he was born in August 2009. I left for China on August 17 of 2012, the same day Henry arrived at New Day Foster Home in Beijing from his orphanage in Hohhot. My husband and I usually envisioned adopting a little girl from China, but when I was there and got to work with both preschoolers and babies, I seemed to be drawn more to the boys. Our team was to work at New Day for three days and then work at Harmony House for a few days. On the second day at New Day, Aug. 22, I was asked to accompany a little girl, sweet Lucy, to the hospital for checkups because I had some Chinese for communicating. At that time, Henry was still with the toddlers, so besides seeing him and carrying him around once in the home, I would not have spent any time with him. As God would have it though, Henry was also going to the hospital that day with his nanny and we traveled together. 

These are the things I remember about my "day" with Henry: he turned three on the 20th and had just recently arrived to New Day so was a little shy and sad (it seemed); he was serious and curious towards me as I tried to talk to him with my little bit of Chinese and make him laugh; he would look at me out of the corner of his eye and smile just a little when I tried to entertain; he wore my sunglasses (photo below) and I showed him my family photos and whatever else was in my purse. I played with Lucy a lot too, but my heart was drawn to Henry without even knowing why (except that he sure was a cutie!).


Aug. 22, 2012

I have to add here that we had never considered adopting a child with special needs prior to my trip. We just did not have any experience with this nor feel like we had the resources. But after my trip, I knew God had opened wide my heart to the possibility as I saw how He loved and cared for the orphan in China...how He would still love and care for the children in the U.S., and how many more medical resources we have here! God confirmed in my heart that not only was a special needs adoption possible for us, but that we should pursue this course. And Henry? Well, I didn't know ON the trip that he was the child God had planned for us, but after getting home, looking at photos, and processing the trip, both my husband and I knew he was the one. Every time I saw his picture, my heart would just about burst out of my chest as such love for him filled my heart.

As soon as we knew, we contacted CCAI with our family info to have them check on his availability. As God would have it, he was available and we immediately began the process for pre-approval so his file would be locked in for us. God's timing was perfect as we did qualify for China this time. The rest of the process can be seen on our adoption timeline to the right. 

This has been an amazing journey that is not even close to being over yet. New Day is an amazing home with so much love and care to give the children God brings them. We have seen Henry grow and begin to thrive there, as seen in his many smiles. How amazing that we have been able to communicate with him like we have, to Skype almost weekly and to be a part of his life across the ocean. God could not have orchestrated this more perfectly and smoothly, and has truly done for us "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20). We just cannot wait to see what the rest of our journey with Henry holds...

     Henry sees his adoptive family photo for the first time.





Thursday, November 7, 2013

Article 5

Our Article 5 was issued by the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou and hand delivered to CCAI's China representatives to arrive at the CCCWA in 2-3 days. Praise God with us that the CCCWA will have our last papers in hand so they can issue us Travel Approval and then we can GO!!!

This is so exciting and a huge milestone in the process.  We can tell Henry is getting excited too as we Skype with him.  Preparations continue to move along: we are continuing our rummage sale this weekend, Henry's Christmas presents are wrapped, and travel items are being packed.  So, thanks for prayers and such loving support!  We are on top of the world and can not wait to hold our son and introduce him to all of you.  Blessings!

**Update: We received our China visas and a $1500 grant notice in the mail today (11/8)...we really are getting so close to meeting our goal AND to going to China!  Woohoo!!!


Happy fall from Pumpkin Panda!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Anticipations

Hi Everyone! We are expecting an Article 5 on November 7th from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, at which point we will be about two weeks out from Travel Approval from China.  That will be the big green light to begin booking flights, packing, and preparing everything and everyone for our absence and return.  Needless to say, leaving right in the middle of a major holiday season requires a lot of planning to be done beforehand so that when we get back with our newest son, we can ENJOY him and the celebrations.

We have also been securing items to take with us for Henry, like travel toys, clothing, and a backpack baby carrier.  It has been SO fun shopping for little boys' clothes again!  We're just taking a few basic items until we know better his sizing.  There are a lot of fun details to think about and so I try to take care of a few each day to keep the stress and busyness to a minimum when the time comes to go.  However, it is really hard to contain the excitement and to focus on other things at times, as you can imagine!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know how things are going.  We are just under $5000 of our goal...praise God!  We are holding a rummage and bake sale again this coming weekend at our church to raise some additional funds, so hope some of you can make it if close by!  It will be Friday (11/8) from 12-5pm and 8am-2pm on Saturday (11/9).  

Do you have any questions for us about adoption, our journey, or Henry?  Just send them our way!  I'm going to be blogging soon on how God led us to adoption and how we knew Henry was the one.  Blessings!

Kerri


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Skyping with Henry Video


A really cute video of us Skyping with Henry last week.  
We can't wait to have him on this side of the computer!  Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Visa Time!

Travel preparations are now underway as we apply for our Chinese visas and Henry's U.S. immigrant visa.  Our file is on its way to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou and once they issue an Article 5, the CCCWA will issue us Travel Approval.  The Consulate will then make an appointment for us and CCAI will determine our travel dates around that.  We can very possibly be traveling as early as December 1st, but will keep you posted!

These are exciting times as we begin looking at packing and document lists, as well as flight options, and start gathering items for the trip.  We also had a very sweet Skype visit with Henry tonight as he ate a piece of birthday cake.  He enjoyed cotton candy last week so apparently has quite a sweet tooth:)  He got a very cute new haircut too...I can NOT wait to hold and love on him!  

Rummage and bake sale preparations are underway for Fri., Nov. 1st from 3-7 p.m. and Sat., Nov. 2nd from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at our church.  If you are interested in donating or baking items for the sale, please let me know!  
  
Keep posted for more exciting details!

Here's a photo of that cotton candy love:



Friday, October 18, 2013

It came!!!

Celebrate with us...I-800 Provisional Approval was given on the 16th by the USCIS and notice has been sent to the US consulate in Guangzhou, China.  Early next week, we will contact the National Visa Center to request the necessary paperwork, submit an online form with the consulate, then be a huge step closer to Travel Approval from China.  At that point, we could be traveling in 1-3 weeks.  This is amazing and so exciting!!!  Praise the Lord!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Introducing...

Introducing...Henry Noah Long-Qian Brown!  We wanted to keep his Chinese heritage in his name but also give him a biblical one.  Here's an excerpt from a December blog on the name Henry Noah: 

     By the way, we are narrowing down his name to Henry Noah Brown.  Isn't that a   
     great name?  Henry means, "Home ruler" or "Rules his household," and Noah, "rest" or 
     "peace."  Our hope is that Henry would find rest and peace not only in the Brown 
     household but in the family of God.  Just as Noah was found to be righteous, was 
     saved from the flood, and became the father of many, may dearest Henry Noah 
     become a man after God's own heart and be used mightily for God's purposes.  We 
     know God has saved his life and set him apart for very special reasons.  We cannot 
     wait to help him find out what those are!

Henry Noah Long-Qian Brown

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Two Months?

Well, our signed LOA is on its way to China if not already there.  Immigration papers are being processed at the USCIS.  Everything keeps moving along well and meeting the timeline as given us. 

We could very well be two months out (or less) of going to get our son.  Can anyone believe this?  We are so excited and at the same time, starting to get a little nervous.  Are we ready?  Are the last funds going to come in?  What's our new life going to look like?  Everything is going to change!  Normal thoughts at this point and only time will bring those answers, but we are having them nonetheless!

Thank you for continued support and prayers.  We need them!  So many details to pull together these next months, not just for the trip itself, but for our new addition.  There are many things we will not know until he is here and assessed, but preparations include doctors appointments, preschool scouting, his Lifebook (I have gathered all the materials but not yet put it together), finalizing his new name, more Chinese language study, and gathering items he will need during travel as well as at home.  We are not going to buy clothing until we have him because we just simply do not know what best fits him, but we are thinking he will need a booster seat for the table, car seat coming home from the airport, and other things like that.  We will buy a stroller in China.  These are the more practical aspects of parenting Henry and we'll do our best to prepare, but obviously, things may change and it will be important to go with the flow when he comes...this reminds me of being a first time parent actually.  We may be seasoned parents of boys, but a boy from China with orthopedic special needs?  Not so much!

In regards to the adoption process, efforts to raise last funds are underway with support letters and a rummage sale being planned for November 1-2.  We can begin taking donations for the rummage sale and you can help get the word out!  We so appreciate any help you can give.  We hold on to this promise:

"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in
Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:19 (HCSB).  

 We're coming soon, sweet Henry!